"This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart as the sun rises, as the sun strokes them with his old buttery fingers."
- Mary Oliver
I pick May as my favorite month in the garden, and Peonies are no small part of that decision.
There are more than 30 species and many hybrids and cultivars to choose from, but my peonies have all chosen me, shared by friends, rescued from forgotten gardens and transplanted from the backyards of parents and grandparents. Some day I am going to figure out just what varieties I do have, but when the peonies begin blooming I usually find myself lost in the task of just enjoying them .
Early in May the tree peonies bloom, with blossoms so blowsy and big the stems can hardly hold them up.
Happy in a partly shady spot, they stand tall and graceful above the newly unfurled ferns .
The month long parade of blossoms in my garden is lead by the deepest shades of magenta, this one's delicate silken petals open
to reveal centers of powdered gold
Pinks of every hue soon follow, until finally there armloads to gather and buckets full to share.
As cut flowers, peonies are outstanding, with strong stems and intense fragrance. Vases are filled and brought into the house to add beauty and fragrance (and an occasional hitchhiking ant) to every room.
As May comes to a close, the last peony to bloom in my garden is this beauty, thick with blush satin petals touched by tiny cerise kisses
The peony is a flower surrounded by tradition and sentiment, and in the garden it's one of the longest-lived and most dependable perennials. Drought tolerant and pest free, it's the flower you are most likely to find blooming away for untold years in old cemeteries and abandoned farmsteads. With colors from deepest burgundy, magenta, pink, coral and yellow to the purest white, and unmatched fragrance, it's no wonder peonies have been a cherished favorite in gardens for hundreds of years.
As a wedding flower, if you are fortunate enough to pick a date in May, a bouquets of peonies combining fat buds and full blown blossoms is exquisite.
I'm sorry to see then go as summer continues into June, but the memories remain, and this year my peonies were the privileged participants in a beautiful May wedding celebration - An honor for the flowers and for the gardener who lovingly grows them.